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Vizquel hopes to play again in 2009

Vizquel hopes to play again in 2009

Free-agent shortstop Omar Vizquel wants to play at least one more season before ending a Major League career that includes 11 Gold Glove Awards and three All-Star Game appearances.

"I feel really good and I don't want to retire knowing I can be a little better than I was last season," the 41-year-old Vizquel said from his home in Issaquah, Wash. "I don't have anything yet, but I want to play and my agent has been talking to a couple of teams. I can't tell you who they are."

Vizquel, released by the Giants at the end of the season after batting .222 -- the lowest since he batted .220 for the Seattle Mariners during his 1989 rookie season -- said he would prefer to stay in the National League.

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"I just know the league after playing there for the last four years, so it would be good for me to stay in the National League," he said.

As for length of contract, he said, "At this point of my career, I think a one-year offer is all anyone is going to give me.

"I don't think anyone is going to give a 41-year-old shortstop more than a one-year deal. I don't want to lose my hope that I will play next season. I think I can still play and want to give it a shot."

The switch-hitting Vizquel underwent arthroscopic knee surgery last Feb. 27 to remove a torn meniscus from his left knee. He started the regular season on the 15-day disabled list, returning to action on May 10.

His batting average sank below .200 on June 14 and he stopped playing regularly after the July 31 Trade Deadline. He was replaced first by Ivan Ochoa, then by Emmanuel Burriss. The Giants have since signed free agent Edgar Renteria to play shortstop.

Vizquel said he understands why the Giants ended their four-year relationship.

"They had to make a move and I am satisfied with what I did for them," he said. "They treated me pretty good and I enjoyed my time there."

Among his numerous defensive achievements:

• Is the all-time leader for double plays by a shortstop.

• Eleven-time Gold Glove winner (1993-2001, '05, '06).

• Second-highest number of Gold Gloves received by a shortstop (five behind Ozzie Smith).

• Oldest shortstop to win a Gold Glove (ages 38 and 39).

• Highest career fielding percentage by a shortstop (.984).

• Fewest number of errors in a season by a shortstop (tie) (three in 2000).

• American League record holder (tie) for most consecutive games without an error (95 between Sept. 26, 1999-July 21, 2001).

Offensively, Vizquel has 2,657 hits and needs 21 more to pass Hall of Famer Luis Aparicio for the most hits in MLB history while playing shortstop.

"I'm not playing for record-breaking or anything like that," he said. "I am just playing because I feel good. I know I'm close to Luis Aparicio for hits and that would be good, but it's not the reason why I want to keep playing.

"The reasons I want to keep playing are because I feel I can still play and I enjoy it."

Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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